Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

Veterans Affairs Backlog at Historic Low; The Americans Who Leave Home to Fight ISIS

by Janine Davidson Saturday, August 29, 2015
The sign in the front of the headquarters building at the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen as a man walks past in Washington, May 23, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Veterans Affairs case backlog drops below 100,000—an historic firstRoughly 98,500 of the 363,000 pending VA claims are now backlogged, defined by cases that have been pending for more than 125 days. Although the number is still high, it represents a remarkable turnaround from two years ago, when the number of backlogged cases peaked at 613,000. Average processing time has fallen from 282 days to 105 today.

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In World War II V-Day Parade, China Will Show Its Steel

by Lauren Dickey Thursday, August 27, 2015
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march with their weapons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at a military base in Beijing, China, August 22, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

Amid a sudden stock market plunge and consequent domestic instability, perhaps no one in China is more eagerly anticipating next week’s military parade than President Xi Jinping. On September 3, the ten lanes of Chang’an Avenue in Beijing will fill with weapons and troops to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, otherwise known as “Commemoration of Seventieth Anniversary of Victory of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.” The parade—just one of many festivities planned by the Chinese government—represents not only a bold show of Chinese nationalism, military might and bilateral relationships, but also a necessary distraction from economic slowdown, the recent explosion in Tianjin, ongoing environmental concerns, and corruption at home.

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Tensions Rise on the Korean Peninsula; Charting the Human Cost of Post-9/11 Interventions

by Janine Davidson Friday, August 21, 2015
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field Fla., April 24, 2014. ( Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force/Flickr)

Tensions rise on the Korean peninsula.  North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire and harsh rhetoric this week, reflecting rising tensions between the Pyongyang and Seoul. The latest clash began after the North fired into the Demilitarized Zone in an attempt to silence loudspeakers that have recently begun to broadcast anti-North messages.  The South responded with its own artillery, placed its military on high alert and warned the North against “rash acts” that would result in more severe punishment from the South. The North, which is also protesting the current annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, has threatened strikes deeper South if the loudspeakers are not removed by Saturday.  There are approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

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In First Speech as Army Chief, General Milley Sets the Tone

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley addresses the audience during a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summeral Field in Arlington, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. (Eboni L. Everson-Myart/U.S. Army/DVIDS)

Last week, General Mark Milley assumed command as the thirty-ninth chief of staff of the United States Army. It was an occasion replete with ceremony—rows of distinguished guests,  a B-52 and a C-17 flyover, a display by the Old Guard, and a traditional “pass and review” by both the outgoing General Odierno and the incoming General Milley — reminders of the peaceful transition of authority that characterizes the U.S. military. Amid the excitement, however, it was also the first chance to note the new Chief of Staff’s priorities and outlook as he approaches the heavy responsibility before him. Among my takeaways from his speech:

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The Start of a New Chapter in Iraqi Politics?

by Jane Arraf Monday, August 17, 2015
Protesters display a huge Iraqi flag during a demonstration against corruption and poor services in regard to power cuts and water shortages, in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, August 14, 2015. (Mushtaq Muhammed/Courtesy Reuters)

By Jane Arraf

It takes a lot to get Iraqis angry enough to take the risk of demonstrating in the streets. They’ve learned the hard way the cost of public protests. But this week, mounting public anger over lack of government services and rampant corruption sparked the most sweeping reform plan in Iraq’s post-war history.

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Retired Admirals and Generals Weigh in on the Iran Deal; The Families that ISIS Foreign Fighters Leave Behind

by Janine Davidson Friday, August 14, 2015
An activist holds a banner during an event of delivering more than 400,000 petition signatures to Capitol Hill in support of the Iran nuclear deal in Washington July 29, 2015. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

A group of thirty-six retired generals and admirals have released an open letter urging support for the Iran nuclear deal. The group, representing retired leaders from every branch of the military. Their argument, in part: Read more »

Seventy Years Since the Day That Changed Everything; A Saudi Ground War in Yemen

by Janine Davidson Friday, August 7, 2015
Hiroshi Harada, a 75-year-old atomic bomb survivor and former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stands near a red ball indicating where the atomic bomb exploded above Hiroshima city, at the museum in Hiroshima, western Japan, March 26, 2015. (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday marked the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at the remembrance ceremony, noting “To coexist we must abolish the…ultimate inhumanity that is nuclear weapons. Now is the time to start taking action.” These calls for disarmament are in line with those of survivors of the attack—like Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived the strikes on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki—who have long called for nuclear disarmament. Paul Ham, writing for the Atlantic, explores the bureaucratic mechanisms that ultimately led to the selection of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over other potential targets, and the ensuing annihilation of roughly 200,000 people.

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